This week, Ashton Kutcher triumphed over CNN in a race to amass one million followers on Twitter, winning the privilege to donate 10,000 anti-mosquito bed nets to combat malaria. The choice of prize may sound bizarre, but it is perfectly timed for the upcoming World Malaria Day on Friday, April 25. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, and more than 80 percent of infections occur in Africa. At $10 per net, the 10,000-net pledge amounted to a $100,000 donation from Ashton to charity Malaria No More, headquartered in New York City. In addition, Ashton has garnered similar pledges from other celebs including Oprah and Ryan Seacrest, reporting a total of $1 million to buy 100,000 nets at last count.
The news is actually better than most know. Many, if not all, of the donated nets will be Olyset Nets, profiled in a January post here on CbD. They are:
- the best-designed nets currently available, which can kill mosquitoes on contact and last up to 5 years instead of only 5 months
- produced by A to Z Textile Mills in Tanzania, creating thousands of jobs and stimulating the country’s economy.
Malaria No More cited benefits of malaria prevention beyond saved lives on its blog: malaria prevention leads to
- a more productive work force
- reclamation of 25% of a family’s income usually devoted to malaria treatment
- reclamation of 40% of Africa’s health expenditure that can be redirected from malaria to other high-priority issues like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and water safety.
Other celebrities to lend their support to the fight against malaria include Kiefer Sutherland, who appeared in a somber message during this season’s 24: Redemption on Fox calling upon viewers to donate nets. Malaria No More has rallied many other famous names – American Idol contestants, UK’s Gordon Brown, Dave Chappelle, Bono – to the goal of distributing bed nets to 100% of those who need them by December 31, 2010.